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News: Lifestyle makeovers driven by syndrome

Millions of UK parents are throwing themselves into a lifestyle makeover in order to cope with their grown-up children flying the nest, according to new research from insurer, Zurich.

The emotional impact of grown-up children often leaves mums and dads experiencing sadness and loss at the end of an era of family life. Known as ‘empty nest syndrome’, millions of parents are affected.

The findings reveal that more than half of parents, - 52% - miss their absent children with 42% feeling a significant sense of loss.

Responding to the change in their lives, 42% holiday more often, with a third (36%) spending more quality time with their partner with a quarter taking up a new hobby or interest to occupy their time.

Another symptom of empty nest syndrome, it seems, is the desire to re-style the family home - 53% adjust their decor to reflect the change in their family.

With many feeling the need to keep busy, a third of parents transform their offspring’s room into a study or hobby room. A similar number simply redecorate their child’s room, nearly a quarter (23%) spring clean, and one in ten re-vamp the entire house.

Author and psychologist Dr Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling, said empty-nest syndrome could prompt anything from silent withdrawal to sudden spending rushes.

"Some parents turn their house into something of a shrine to their children, not touching anything at all," Dr Hodson said. "People can be very bereft. It is particularly difficult for parents whose whole life has been defined by the role as a mother or a father. When you take away the routine and the responsibility, what are you left with?"

As to the home re-stylers Dr Hodson believes the real person is escaping from the shell of a protective parent. "The other side of the coin is that empty-nesters make changes to the house in order to change their own lives to become people in their own right, rather than just parents," He said.

The old adage ‘there’s no time like the present’ is appropriate for more than a quarter of parents who carry out the renovations within two months of their kids leaving. The advice from Zurich for those thinking of doing a spot of home improvement is that they should call in professional help when carrying out major projects.

If replacing the children’s rooms with a new gym, home office or hobby room, with all the relevant equipment to go with it, remember to keep your insurance company or broker informed so the risk of being underinsured is reduced.

Martin Hall, Head of Personal Lines Underwriting at Zurich Insurance, said, “When adult children leave the family home, it’s understandably the end of an era for parents. There’s a period of adjustment to go through, and it seems that many parents respond by welcoming change to their lifestyles and homes. But don’t forget that it’s important to keep their insurance company or broker up to speed with any major improvements - just to make sure you’ll be covered.”

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